I understand that I don’t always look at the bright side of life.
As I’m walking a family out of the hospital after they leave their loved one for the last time, “Make it a great day” feels off. I may as well punch them in the gut.
As I’m listening to a nurse in a light-dimmed hallway, rooms full, two deaths already in the last four hours, offering “It’s always darkest before the storm,” feels like spiritual malpractice.
So I don’t say those things. I offer presence and compassion. In their presence, when asked, I ask God to make them aware of his presence and peace. I ask for comfort. I acknowledge that this is hard.
But, in my best moments, occasionally, when they are gone, I turn to God. And, like Paul, I try to do what he described.
I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.
I don’t think that Paul is putting the burden on his friends to cheer up, to get the right perspective. In some moments, about some events, we cannot get the right perspective. We cannot cheer up. We cannot understand. Nor will we understand this side of death.
Which is why Paul puts the request before God to give light to the eyes of hearts. For God to give glimpses of hope, of riches, of power. Not answers, mind you. But glimpses of glory.
Sunday, November 22, is the end of the Church Year, and is, for many, “Reign of Christ.” I’m preparing for that service and reflection. This is one of the texts. The next Sunday is the beginning of the next church year, the first Sunday of Advent. Which is why the journal, Giving a Year Meaning: A Healing Journal for Advent 2020.